Celts benefit as Davis finally returns to form

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Celts benefit as Davis finally returns to form

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

NEW YORK For most of the Boston Celtics' first-round series with New York, the Glen Davis we had come to expect was nowhere to be found.

Known for stepping his game up in the playoffs, the Celtics' undersized power forward was consistently underwhelming at every turn.

In Boston's first three playoff games against New York, he was 5-for-16 from the field.

And his defense?

That wasn't much better, either.

But then came Easter Sunday 2011, a day folks across the world recognize the power of resurrection.

On a much smaller scale that day at Madison Square Garden, we saw Davis return to the game-changing, high-impact super-sub the Celtics have come to know and love.

The end result was a 14-point night, one of several factors in the Celtics knocking off the Knicks, 101-89, to complete a four-game sweep.

By beating the Knicks in such a quick fashion, the Celtics came home to a couple days off as opposed to having to prepare for a Game 5 matchup against the Knicks.

Even as the Celtics rolled through the first three games against New York, it was clear Davis was trying too hard.

"I feel relief," he said following Sunday's win.

Coach Doc Rivers is often Davis' biggest critic.

Although it doesn't always look like it, he's also one of his biggest supporters.

That's why even when Davis struggled, Rivers never lost faith in that at some point, Davis would get on track and help the Celtics win.

But there are times when Rivers, who knows all too well how emotional Davis can be, has to take that additional step with the 25-year-old and sit him down for a one-on-one talk.

The two had such a conversation recently, and the result . . . well, we saw it on Easter Sunday.

"Sometimes, emotionally I can get down on myself or get frustrated," said Davis, who made 6-of-8 shots in the C's series-clinching victory. "Emotionally you kind of worry about the wrong things."

Lately, Davis said he has been worrying about what he can do to help the C's instead of just playing his game.

Rivers reminded him this week that simply being who he is, is exactly what the Celtics need.

"I wanted to help my team anyway possible," Davis said. "Things weren't working my way, so you get frustrated."

What Davis was experiencing, Rivers said, was symbolic of what the Celtics' second unit as a whole was going through in this series.

In the first three games, it was clear Boston's success was primarily because of the starters playing exceptionally well.

But in Game 4, Boston's bench proved to be the difference.

"We had a big lead (in Game 4), and it was because of our bench," Rivers said. "They all were feeling the adversity and going through it, and they just hung in there. That's what happens in the playoffs. This was a great example of that. You play one or two bad games, and everyone tells you how bad you are, you start rushing. They just came out and played."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Celtics' team plane receives bomb threat

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Celtics' team plane receives bomb threat

BOSTON -- There was a bomb threat to the Boston Celtics’ team plane to Oklahoma City on Saturday afternoon, but no one was injured.

The incident will be investigated by NBA security which will work in conjunction with the FBI on this matter which was one of several hoaxes called into airports across the country on Saturday.

News of the bomb threat was first known when Celtics forward Jae Crowder posted an Instagram photo showing players departing the plane with the caption, “BOMB THREAT ON US”.

Celtics officials declined to comment on the matter and instead referred all bomb threat-related questions to the league office.

Messages to the league office were not immediately returned.

Celtics' ball movement among NBA's best, with or without Thomas

Celtics' ball movement among NBA's best, with or without Thomas

BOSTON – When it comes to winning basketball, keep it moving – the ball that is – has become a staple of the Celtics this season. 
 
And lately they’ve had to do it without Isaiah Thomas, the team’s leading scorer at 26 points per game as well as their top assists guy (6.2) who will miss hish third game in a row Sunday in Oklahoma City because of a right groin injury.
 
The Celtics have split their first two games without Thomas, with the most recent being a 101-94 home loss to Toronto on Friday.
 
When it comes to this team and ball movement, fans are just as divided when it pertains to whether the Celtics move the ball better without the high-scoring Thomas in the lineup. 
 
Regardless of what fans think they know about this team and how they move the ball, the numbers paint a very clear picture that this team’s ball movement is among the best in the NBA, with or without Thomas in the lineup. 

And that will be important on Sunday against an Oklahoma City team that doesn’t rely on the ball swinging from one side of the floor to the other, nearly as much as the Celtics. 
 
The Thunder, led by MVP candidate Russell Westbrook, are dead-last in the NBA when it comes to passes made per game (267.1). 
 
Meanwhile, the Celtics are at the opposite end of the passing game spectrum, averaging 331.7 passes per game, which is second in the NBA (Philadelphia, 354.3).
 
And in the two games without Thomas, Boston has averaged 347.0 passes per game, which ranks second in the NBA in that period of time. 
 
In addition to missing his points and assists, the Celtics must also find ways to make plays in filling the void left by a player who has the ball in his hands a lot of the time. 
 
Thomas’ usage percentage (percentage of plays used by a player while he’s on the floor) of 32.9 percent ranks seventh in the NBA, ahead of notable stars such as San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard (30.9 percent), Portland’s Damian Lillard (30.8 percent), New York’s Carmelo Anthony (29.5 percent), as well as Cleveland’s LeBron James (29 percent) and Golden State’s back-to-back NBA MVP Stephen Curry (28.2 percent).
 
So, considering how involved Thomas has been in the team’s offense, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the numbers in terms of passing and ball movement are better without him than they are when he’s on the floor playing. 
 
What should be surprising is that the gap statistically without him, isn’t greater. 
 
Boston has been a top five team when it comes to assists this season, currently third in the league with 24.7 assists per game. In the past two games without Thomas, the Celtics’ assists numbers have risen to 26.5 per game, but that only ranks fifth in the league in that span.
 
When it comes to potential assists and secondary assists (a.k.a. the “hockey” assist), Boston’s numbers have improved slightly without Thomas as well, but in each category Boston is ranked second in the league. 
 
And that ranking is with, and without Thomas in the lineup. 
 
While it’s not clear if Thomas knows just how close the numbers in terms of ball movement are with and without him playing, he is acutely aware that there are some who believe they are a better team in terms of keeping the ball moving without him.
 
“I can’t control that,” Thomas told reporters on Friday. “At this point, I laugh about it. I know what I mean to my teammates. I know what I mean to this organization, to Brad Stevens.”